Definition of spiv in English:

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Pronunciation: /spiv/


British informal
A man, typically characterized by flashy dress, who makes a living by disreputable dealings.
Example sentences
  • She would recount how it was possible to buy anything - from meat, chocolate, cigarettes and the obligatory ‘nylons’ - from the spivs and black market racketeers.
  • Martin Clunes plays George Haigh, a wartime spiv who murdered nine people and dissolved their bodies in acid.
  • One of the choicest ironies is that he now speaks with disapproval about black marketeers, spivs and touts and unofficial operators, and has nothing but praise for his new friends in the RFU.



Pronunciation: /ˈspiviSH/


Pronunciation: /ˈspivē/
Example sentences
  • And after a shaky start, Daniel actually starts to enjoy climbing his family tree - ranging from the willowy Rebecca to shakier timbers like the spivvy Irving.
  • The fact that he is played by an actor whom nature has condemned to permanently talk out of the side of his mouth, as if drawn by Picasso, adds to his spivvy air.
  • Again, the mode is parable: a spivvy Italian father tries to please his Anglicized young son by integrating into the mainstream through an arranged marriage.


1930s: perhaps related to spiffy.

Words that rhyme with spiv

forgive, give, live, misgive, outlive, shiv, sieve, Viv

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: spiv

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